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The Knotted Tie: An Obituary

By June 2, 20119 Comments

I have an announcement to make that won’t come as much of a surprise to many of you:

The tie is dead.

It used to be that a knotted silk neck tie formed the very essence of a male recruiter’s appearance.  The suit, the shirt, the shiny shoes, the oversized watch and the black compendium were completed with a flourish of swishing silk knotted around the neck.  This probably came about with the traditional recruitment services offered into the Accounting, Banking and General Management sectors that required an element of dressing up to mirror your clients and candidates to put them at ease and generate credibility.  But is there really any point in the modern age of business?

My mind moved onto this subject while watching the news last night where the Japanese Environmental Ministry have launched the “Super Cool Biz” campaign.  With power shortages arising from the crippled Fukushima power plant they are removing air conditioning from many office buildings and workers are preparing to work in 28C temperatures.  Obviously, the announcement was made from a gaggle of open-necked politicians who out of necessity had ditched their usually conservative look.


This got me thinking.  I have a wardrobe stuffed with ties of varying hues and textures that I have absolutely no intention of ever wearing again.  In fact the last time I wore one was, ingruously enough, at my sister’s wedding last November in a sweltering little Hunter Valley church in New South Wales, which was enough to put anyone off such sartorial strangulations for life.


I spend all day meeting all kinds of recruiters and the times I come across people in ties are virtually non-existant.  In fact, I have noticed an increasing trend for the second button of the shirt to be unbuttoned now too.  Oh yeah, look out ladies (and some men), the open-necked recruiters are becoming the open-chested recruiters.  What a dubious delight!  This was well-illustrated recently when I interviewed a promising young recruiter and put him forward to a particular firm.  This firm happened to have the Australian CEO in town who wanted to meet my candidate.  The CEO being rather old-school and conservative, it was suggested that he would improve his chances of impressing said CEO by sporting a good, knotted tie.  This was suggested amongst much jocularity and eye-rolling but the message was clear enough, and lo and behold the candidate got the thumbs up and got the job.


So join me on this long Queen’s Birthday weekend in liberating your wardrobes from those old ties once and for all.  And if you refuse, or disagree, then fine, let me hear your side of the story.  But don’t let me interrupt you faxing those CVs and writing up your newspaper job ads.


But hey, maybe keep one back just in case, you never know when you might need to impress an old-school interviewer.  Or MC at your sister’s wedding, for that matter.



Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Alison says:

    Jonathan, it will be a sad day indeed when we say goodbye to the tie for good. Ask any female and I think you will find them all agreeing that the humble tie is in fact a great look on a man. From a recruiters perspective, I think it says ‘I have made an effort’. I’m sure that if fashion dictates they are on the outer, it wont be too long before they make their grand return.

  • Ben Young says:

    Jon, I enjoy the somewhat provocative nature of your blog but I have to say this is outrageous! The tie will never die! 

  • Shane Burton says:

    “Horses for courses” when considering ties for guys. I wear a tie most of the time when visiting clients, because most of my clients will be. Candidates are another matter, I can count on one hand the number of times candidates have worn ties when I interview them.

  • Seth says:

    You will be growing facial hair and eating with your hands next. Oh hang on.. you are British –  you’re excused!

  • Anonymous says:

    As someone who entered recruitment when clients in the city of London still wore bowler hats and Margaret Thatcher was our pin up girl, and who has worked with a client base of mainly Chartered Accountants for 30 years, I hate to admit it but young Mr Rice is right!  2 weeks ago I turned up at a client without a tie (I thought I had one in the car) and apologised to the partner I was meeting only to be told “Don’t worry James I haven’t worn one for years”

    and then only yesterday I went to another “traditional” client in the usual dress – dark suit, well polished shoes, silk tie, and yes, the black folder and shock horror  – the senior partner (older than me) was wearing denim jeans and a polo shirt.

    Oh Mr Rice, how the world has changed..    

  • Darryl Mead says:

    I’ve encountered both ends of the tie spectrum recently having worked in financial services in London which does not openly embrace anything casual – well not at Canary Wharf anyway, and now in an agency environment which is the total oppoosite. As a candidate it’s still hard to gauge the best approach to dress at an interview unless you do some research on the company or just ask. I was recently visiting a client (a large retailer) whose CEO insisted a tie be worn or I wouldnt be allowed in the room.

  • George 3636 says:

    Too true – BUT – I always wear one to a client – I need to look like I am expensive to get the fee’s I want 🙂

  • Greenhornetsnest says:

    I like how you have integrated the tying of a knott with actually tying the knott. You’re quite clever and I think you should collate you’re articles and put out a how to guide on recruitment.Although I would most likely change your name as Jon Rice is a little plain. Well done.